‘Doctor Who’: 10 Things You May Not Know About ‘Arachnids in the UK’
“Arachnids in the UK” is the story that cements the Thirteenth Doctor’s planetary base. Suddenly all of the interplanetary activity that had previously happened to London was happening in Sheffield, and with the introduction of Yaz’s extended family, we can start to appreciate the home life of different communities within the U.K.
It’s also the first story to show the time vortex less as a long tunnel to hurtle down, and more as a series of potential branches to take. So it’s in that spirit that we offer a collection of interesting things that are worth stopping and taking a look at in our journey into the spider’s web.
Here are a few things to keep an eye out for, the next time you watch:
1. It’s not often that the worlds of punk rock and Doctor Who intersect. Peter Capaldi was once in a punk band called The Dreamboys with Craig Ferguson, and a lot of the post-punk synthpop bands like The Human League admitted using the Doctor Who theme as an inspiration but that’s about it until now. The title of this story is a punk pun, based on the debut single by the Sex Pistols, “Anarchy in the UK.”
2. And while we’re on music, the Doctor asks Robertson if he’s Ed Sheeran, a name that probably requires no explanation. But you may not know that when Ryan plugs into Raze — “Sheffield's sickest grime station” — he’s tapping into a youth music scene every bit as potent as punk rock. Grime is the U.K.’s answer to hip hop, a brash, bass-heavy form of street poetry that developed in the housing estates of East London. The music used to scare the spiders is “Know Me From” by Stormzy – one of the biggest names in grime.
3. In the Brazilian version of this story, Ed Sheeran’s name was taken out of the dubbed script and replaced with that of the businessman, national celebrity and owner of TV channel SBT, Silvio Santos.
4. The Doctor has come across the accidental mutation of local insect life by toxic waste before. Her third incarnation uncovered giant maggots in a disused coal mine in Wales; they had been mutated by chemicals dumped there by Global Chemicals.
5. As part of a running theme in which performers best known for comedy make a guest appearances in Doctor Who, Shobna Gulati plays Yaz’s mum Najia Khan. British TV audiences will already have been very familiar with her from her work on the wonderful Victoria Wood sitcom Dinnerladies, and from her five-year stint playing Sunita Alahan in the soap opera Coronation Street.
6. Meanwhile, the face of Yaz’s father Hakim will be familiar to Torchwood fans, as Ravin J. Ganatra – the owner and operator of the face in question – appeared in the story “Greeks Bearing Gifts,” playing Neil.
7. The Doctor Who costume department has accidentally wandered into a note of international decorum and confusion by giving the Doctor a waistband pouch to keep her sonic in. These are known by many names. In Ireland it’s a gee bag. In the U.K. it’s a bumbag. And, in the U.S. it’s a belt bag, a moon bag, a belly bag or (and this is where things get delicate), a fanny pack.
In the British Isles, fanny is a slang term almost exclusively used to describe female genitalia. It is never used to mean a backside.
8. And while we’re on language, should you be looking for a British slang exclamation to express every emotion from “I am outraged!” to “how surprising!” — but you really don’t want to swear — the phrase you need is “flipping heck!” To hear it in action, listen to Yaz’s expert delivery at first sight of her mother’s place of work.
9. When the Doctor exclaims that The Spider Mother in the Ballroom could be the title of "the best novel Edith Wharton never wrote," she is referring to the work of the celebrated early 20th century author and designer, and first female winner of a Pulitzer Price in Literature, which she won for her novel The Age of Innocence. Other notable works which could have prompted the Doctor’s comment include The Valley of Decision, The House of Mirth, The Fruit of the Tree, The Custom of the Country and The Glimpses of the Moon.
10. The Doctor has a long history of battling spiders and spider-like creatures. The Third Doctor came face to face with the Great One and the Eight Legs in “Planet of the Spiders,” the Racnoss in “The Runaway Bride” (see clip below) and the spider germs in “Kill the Moon.” It’s interesting to note that there have been three comic adventures in which the Doctor battles spider-like creatures; the Lobri in Ground Zero; the giant spiders in Dr. Who in the Spider’s Web and The Psychic Jungle. This may have something to do with how much fun comic book artists find it to draw webs.
Did "Arachnids in the UK" leave you fearful of eight legged creatures?!